Hollywood's Copyright Wars
From Edison to the Internet
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Beginning with Thomas Edison’s aggressive patent and copyright disputes and concluding with recent lawsuits against YouTube and Universal, Hollywood’s Copyright Wars follows the struggle of the film, television, and digital media industries to influence and adapt to copyright law. Many of Hollywood’s most valued treasures, from Modern Times (1936) to Star Wars (1977), cannot be fully understood without appreciating their legal controversies. Peter Decherney shows that the history of intellectual property in Hollywood has not always mirrored the evolution of the law. Many landmark decisions have barely changed the industry’s behavior, while some quieter policies have had revolutionary effects. His most remarkable contribution uncovers Hollywood’s reliance on self-regulation. Rather than involve congress, judges, or juries in settling copyright disputes, studio heads and filmmakers have often kept such arguments in house,” turning to talent guilds and other groups for solutions. Whether the issue has been battling piracy in the 1900s, controlling the threat of home video, or managing modern amateur and noncommercial uses of protected content, much of Hollywood’s engagement with the law has occurred offstage, in the larger theater of copyright. Decherney’s unique history recounts these extralegal solutions and their impact on American media and culture.
- Columbia University Press, April 2012
Columbia University Press
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